Sixty of the world’s most talented young sailors headed to Queenstown for the Rilean O’pen Bic New Zealand Open, hosted by the Wakatipu Yacht Club. The world-class regatta, Queenstown’s largest sailing event to date, was held over three days from January 18-20, 2018.
O’pen Bic yachts are a junior skiff designed for children and teens aged up to 17 years. It’s a class that is fast gaining popularity in NZ. Young sailing competitors came from as far away as Japan, Hawaii and Bermuda.
“We have some exceptional young talent racing in the event,” John Stalker, Wakatipu Yacht Club Commodore, says. “Sailing in general has taken a huge leap forward with NZ’s win in the America’s Cup."
“The O’pen Bic class strives to maintain its high standards of racing but also emphasises the fun factor as we model our events on short races of only 20 minutes and always include a fun-style race at the end of every event. The class is about trying to make sure that all the kids work together and help each other out.”
The O’pen Bic class is heavily supported by Kiwi sailing great Sir Russell Coutts, who was mentoring the sailors on the water and in between races during the three days of the event.
Steve McLean of Queenstown’s Rilean Construction, the major sponsor of the Rilean O’pen Bic NZ Nationals 2018, says the event represents traditional Kiwi values.
“It was an easy decision to get behind the O’pen Bic New Zealand Open and support the Wakatipu Yacht Club since we believe in giving back to our local community,” he says. “We have sailors on the team at Rilean, so this was a great way to do so.”
One young sailor who did exceptionally well in his class was Blake Jackson, age 9, who is son of Rilean Project Manager, Hamish Jackson (both photographed with Sir Russell Coutts in top photo).